David Russell, the chairman of the Telecommunications Disputes Resolution Service, has accused telco Slingshot of hypocrisy in its campaign seeking to capitalise on Telecom’s XT network failure.
The campaign encourages Telecom customers to move to Slingshot and to lay a complaint with the Telecommunication Dispute Resolution Scheme (TDRS) about Telecom's poor service.
However, Russell points out today that while Telecom is a member and signatory to the TDRS, Slingshot is not. It withdrew early last year.
David Russell says that some Telecom customers have reason to be annoyed but Slingshot is being hypocritical. He suggests customers think carefully before they switch.
“It’s a bit rich of Slingshot to urge Telecom’s customers to lodge complaints with the TDRS, when Telecom is a signatory to the scheme but Slingshot is not,” he said.
“In fact, since Slingshot left the TDRS the number of complaints against it has risen steadily, but we can’t help these people because Slingshot has elected to back away from the scheme.”
Mark Callander, Slinghot's GM, dismissed the accusation, saying the company has implemented its own "transparent" disputes system.
Callander says the TDRS is flawed in that there is no mediation of disputes. Instead these are escalated until the dispute is resolved and, at the third level of escalation can cost members $1,500 per dispute.
He adds that Slingshot put forward a range of suggestions for reform of the system and left when these were ignored. Callander says other members are planning to leave the service as well.
Russell says that if Slingshot wants to be taken seriously with its marketing pitch it should rejoin and thus offer the same protection to its customers as that given by Telecom.
“Consumers who are contemplating changing to another phone company should always check whether it is a member of the scheme,” David Russell said. “Those who are members, Telecom included, are being socially responsible by giving their customers a degree of independent protection. Slingshot are not.
Ernie Newman, CEO of the Telecommunications Users' Association, says TUANZ was instrumental in setting up the TDRS and is pleased with the spirit in which the three major telcos are supporting it.
A recent addition to the board of the service, Newman says it's ironic that the smaller companies are not giving the scheme the support it deserves and he wants to see the industry as a whole get behind it.